Posts Tagged ‘Exodus’

Order: The Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments

The Tenth Day of Christmas, January 3, 2018

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gives to me ten lords a-leaping.

Many of us are familiar with The Ten Commandments that Yahweh gives to Moses, but how often do we pause to think of the fact the God, through Moses, not only gives us a simple set of rules to follow, but that he explains the effect these rules will have on our lives. God sees our authenticity by the way we live, and by the way we do or do not say, “Yes,” in response to God’s call. Today the old Christmas carol poses these questions to us: do we see the Gospel stories as a fulfillment of God’s hope in the covenant God establishes with us in the promise of the Ten Commandments?

This part of the Exodus story is bracketed by two convergent episodes: the provision of quail, manna and water by God to the Israelites, and the planning and building of a desert temple-tent for Yahweh by the Israelites. We see actions by both God and the Chosen People that speak of their desire to live in a covenant relationship. And the actual agreement, along with its explanations and implications, lies between these two actions in chapters 20 to 24.

The Holy Spirit

God takes the Israelites out of bondage – just as Jesus later does for all when he comes to live among us and to institute the Kingdom (in Luke 4:14-30). With the giving of the commandments, God foresees the struggle of the people in the desert. God’s preservation and protection of these people bring to God not only fame, glory and praise, but also an arrogant, contemptuous rejection by us. So too does Jesus arrive among God’s people to fulfill the Mosaic Law, to provide and protect us, and then to suffer at our hands; yet ultimately, God the Father and God the Son both offer their compassion and mercy to us when we are wayward. All that is required of us is that we repent of our past transgressions and then respond to the call. Just as God sent an angel to guard the Israelites and bring them to the place God had in mind for them (23: 20-33), so too does Jesus send the Holy Spirit to dwell with us after Jesus’ resurrection – to guide and protect, and to lead us to the holy place he has prepared for us. Of course, later in Chapter 32 of Exodus, the people tire of waiting for Moses to descend Mt. Sinai, so they create and worship the Golden Calf. Moses returns, breaks the tablets and loses his patience. The people repent, agree to do as Yahweh asks and Yahweh restores the tablets. A familiar story that we repeat today – we only need to read and compare history and current events. And it is no wonder that we stray – no wonder that the Israelites strayed. When we look at chapters 20 to 24 of Exodus, we see the social implications of the Mosaic Law. We might pay special attention to some of the verses that hold ideas difficult to take, verses that call for us to respect ourselves and one another: 22:15, 23:1, 22: 1-3, 22: 20, 21:35-36.

So on this day when we continue our celebration of God’s truest gift of love, we take a few moments to recollect our experiences in covenant relationships with others. We might mediate for a bit on how we might remain faithful to the one central covenant in our lives. And we might decide how best to renew that covenant each day with our Creator.

Adapted from a reflection on The Ten Commandments written February 14, 2007.

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Torah: Law and Covenant

Torah being read at a Bar Mitzvah

The Fifth Day of Christmas, December 29, 2017

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me five gold rings.

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Our origins and beginnings, God’s redemption and deliverance, our holiness and worship, service and work, God’s law and covenant with the people. The first five books of the Old Testament are five gold rings that we might wear on our fingers as we remember how God has acted in our lives, and has called us to a holy way of life.

We might take time today to read stories of creation and the patriarchs whose lives bring us vivid examples of how we might – or might not – respond to God’s call. On the other hand, we might want to explore the exodus story that we re-live during Lent and Eastertide each year. Some of us might be interested in the minutiae of the law or in the early Temple rites. Finally, we may want to explore the Christian perspective of these ancient Jewish scriptures because for Christians, “the Pentateuch portrays the pilgrim people waiting for the full realization of the kingdom of God.”

No matter our perspective, no matter our circumstances, these five golden rings bring us a foundation and a vision for the kingdom we know is already among us.

For more about the Torah, or Pentateuch, visit: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-written-law-torah or http://www.usccb.org/bible/scripture.cfm?src=_intros/pentateuch-intro.htm

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Psalm 27: Seek Trust – God’s Face

Morgan Weistling: Kissing the Face of God

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

This is one of my favorite Psalms. The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom should I fear?  The Lord is my life’s refuge, of whom am I afraid?

We all seek God’s face.  This is what we miss so much in our pilgrimage on this planet.  Where do we find this face? The psalmist tells us: In the temple. 

This week’s Mass readings are from Exodus and we hear again the story of how Moses erected a desert tent as the temple that housed the covenant promise that the people held with God.  And God came down to speak with Moses and to the people in the form of a fiery column of smoke.  This column was both guide and protector.  The temple eventually traveled to various cities in the Kingdom of Israel, Jericho, Shiloh, and others, until it eventually rested in Jerusalem – where it ceased to travel and became permanent . . . and corrupt.

The Messiah arrived to replace that temple and to tell us that each one of us is a temple – to be kept holy and sacred for the Spirit’s in-dwelling, to be God’s presence in a struggling world.  And this is what we agree to as part of our own personal covenant with our creator.  That we will trust God and live in accordance with God’s statutes, that we will love God and practice the Greatest Commandment daily, that we will do our best to be People of Hope as we follow The Way that Jesus walked while here on earth.  As the psalmist says, I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy. And the sacrifices I offer are the little and big trials which I undergo daily.

We are all apostles sent forth with this message.  We are journeying together with a clear map to follow.  Again the psalmist, aware that enemies lurk along the roadside, says, Lord, show me your way; lead me on a level path because of my enemies.

The final exhortation sung by the psalmist is, Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord!

And the people say . . . Amen.

Adapted from a Favorite written on August 2, 2007.


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Judges 2: Joshua

Saturday, July 1, 2017

As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15)

The Book of Judges, as we have seen, brings us accounts of God’s fidelity in the face of the faithful’s repeated and blatant infidelity. Human nature has not changed over the millennia and so we may want to reassure ourselves that God indeed sends heroes to save us, despite our lack of constancy.

Today’s chapter recalls the leader Joshua who leads the Israelites into Canaan and establishes the twelve tribes in the land promised to them by Yahweh. When we see how the people turn to pagan gods to later turn and repent, we might also see our own repeated cycle. We become comfortable, then turn to our own pagan gods of social media, status seeking, and comfort zones. We encounter obstacles only to realize that while God helps us through our daily turmoil, God also sustains our eternal selves.

As for me and my family, we will serve God. (Joshua 24:15)

Of course, Yahweh abides – as God always does. But what we notice today is that once the generation who trekked from bondage to freedom has passed away, once all of these people who suffered in the desert are gone, once they have been nourished and fed and can relax a bit, the Israelites fall back into the old patterns and habits of sin. As we progress in our own pilgrimage from desert to promise, we might reflect on the heroes who intervene for us at just the right moments. And we might turn and return to God, to take up where we have left off in our journey home.

When we revive the old tales of salvation, we remember our own stories. Each time God saves us, heals, transforms and lifts us up, we might want to record our transformation and give thanks to God. We might also share our stories of redemption so that others might remember God’s love and generosity.

As for me and my household, we will worship the Lord. (Joshua 24:15)

As a young man, Joshua joins the great Exodus from Egypt and rises to second-in-command as the twelve tribes journey through the desert. Serving Yahweh, he shows his strengths as a practical leader. Although we can imagine that Joshua had moments of doubt, scripture gives us no story of his turning away from the Lord. Always serving, Joshua remains constant, persistent and generous, ready to do what Yahweh asks of him. Always moving forward, Joshua remains hopeful, courageous and open to Yahweh’s call. Today we reflect on how we might look at Joshua to discern what we might learn, and how we too, might serve as one of God’s heroes.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15)

Adapted from a reflection written on February 22, 2007.

For commentary on Joshua, click the image above or visit: https://theisraelbible.com/bible/joshua 

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John 10: Coming In and Going Out

Monday, May 15, 2017

Because we hear this story each Eastertide, we know this image well; yet do we listen fully to the description of the relationship between the shepherd and his sheep? And do we notice that once the shepherd leads his sheep into the fold, he then leads them out again?

When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. (Verse 4)

In Jesus’ day, it was the habit of a good rabbi to explore familiar scripture to listen for new juxtapositions and orientations. This re-working of a familiar message asks the faithful to remain awake, to sustain fidelity, to live a hope-filled and loving life that will grow in Christ. We return to Jesus’ words.

 I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. (Verse 9)

The Winnowing Fork

We do not know the hour or day of the winnowing fork and so we are to stand ready like those who exited slavery in the great exodus with Moses (Exodus). We are to take unleavened bread and remember that we are marked with the sign of thau (Ezekiel 9:4) and respond to the shepherd’s call each time we hear his voice. In this way, we prepare to recognize the shepherd to follow him into the safety of the sheepfold . . . so that we may also follow him back through the gate and into the world.

When we compare different translations of John 10, we have a better understanding of our unique relationship with Christ as the leader who calls us into the sheepfold, so that he might lead us out into the world.

For an interesting article on the Exodus story, visit: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/moses-exodus.html

For more information on the sign of thau, visit the Biblehub at: http://biblehub.com/commentaries/ezekiel/9-4.htm

For more on the connection between the sign of thau and the sign of the cross, visit: http://catholicexchange.com/biblical-roots-sign-cross

Adapted from a reflection written on August 30, 2007.

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Exodus 2:6: Behold the Child

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Edwin Longsden Long: The Finding of Moses

Edwin Longsden Long: The Finding of Moses

In this final week of Advent, let us decide to make our hopes tangible, our dreams a prayer for our reality, our faith unwavering and our love secure. Let us cleave to the Creator, follow the Redeemer and rest in the Spirit. This week let us give one another the gift of preparing for the very real promise of eternity.

The Old Testament prepares us for a child born in dangerous circumstances who will later save a nation.

When the daughter of Pharaoh opened the basket, she saw the child, and behold, the boy was crying. And she had pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” (NRSV)

The story of the Hebrew captivity in Egypt prepares us to be a people in exile.

The princess opened the basket and saw a baby boy. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said. (GNT)

The story of the Hebrew Exodus to a place of promise prepares us to be a pilgrim church.

She opened the basket and looked inside, and there in front of her was a crying baby boy! Moved with pity, she said, “This must be one of the Hebrews’ children.” (CJB)

The story of the foreign princess nurturing a child who will rescue a nation prepares us for God’s promises.

Pharaoh’s daughter came down to the Nile to bathe; her maidens strolled on the bank. She saw the basket-boat floating in the reeds and sent her maid to get it. She opened it and saw the child—a baby crying! Her heart went out to him. She said, “This must be one of the Hebrew babies.” (MSG)

Behold, God uses the marginalized to reveal the false security of the center.

When we reflect on other translations of the Moses story, we understand that God speaks to always with stories of inversion. And we realize that our own story must stand on its head if it is to align with the story of Christ.

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Psalm 105God’s Faithfulness

Sunday, October 30, 2016

David Teis: Moses and Aaron

David Teis: Moses, Aaron and Hur

A Favorite from October 6, 2009. 

And the Lord made his people very fruitful, and made them stronger than their foes . . .

In today’s Noontime we are reminded about the exodus story and about how God called a people from slavery.  This a psalm of thanksgiving for a god who, rather than treat his people like toys to play with, rather than demand service and human sacrifice of his people, chooses to protect, call and love them.  Where the following psalm deals with the topic of sin, this one is a hymn of praise for a God who abides by our covenant pact . . . even though we do not.

We also see a theme from the Genesis story of Joseph who says to his brothers: God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.  (Genesis 45:7)  As in the Joseph story, when ugly things happen we have no way of understanding how God will use the harm directed at us to be converted to good.  So many times – if we can just hold on – we will see the fruitfulness of our suffering when God works wonders with our enemies and with us.

They performed his signs among them, and miracles . . . Moses and Aaron are designated by God as miracle workers among the Hebrews in order that his greatness be known.  We too, are called to work miracles in God’s name so that the world may know God’s awesome power and love.

So he brought his people out with joy, his chosen ones with singing . . .

Jesus lives among us to bring us the good news that there is universal salvation for those who choose to follow him.

Jesus works among us to preserve and to protect those who follow him.

Jesus waits patiently for each of us to knock at the great door of his heart to ask for his help so that he, like the Father, may show us his love and his awesome faithfulness.

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Joshua 18:1-10Taking Steps

Sunday, September 18, 2016canaan3

How much longer will you put off taking steps to possess the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you?

When the Hebrew people make their exodus from Egypt they are going back to the land that has been promised them by Yahweh.  In today’s reading we arrive at the part in that story where several tribes have yet to realize their inheritance.  Archaeologists have not found traces of the enormous migration described in scripture but what they do see is evidence of cultures merging and reshaping as the peoples in the region struggle to survive through periods of famine and drought.  The peoples sometimes unite against invaders.  They sometimes strike out on their own to take over city-states and their surrounding territory.

Today we read about the precision and care the Israelites take in acquiring the land promised to them through the covenant established between Abraham and Yahweh.  We also read about the care they take to include God’s influence and authority in their own plans.  We might learn a good deal from this as we practice how to not put off taking steps to possess that which the Lord God has already given us.

We are given the gift of freedom; yet we sometimes allow ourselves to become trapped by the shackles we insist on acquiring.

We are given the gift of faith; yet we sometimes respond more to fear than reliance on God.

We are given the gift of hope; yet we sometimes sabotage our own possibilities of realizing potential.

We are given the gift of love; yet we sometimes hide this gift for fear of losing it.

We are given the gift of life everlasting; yet we sometimes cling more to life temporal in this world.

How much longer will you put off taking steps to possess the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you?

The Lord has promised us God’s care, God has assured us that we are the Lord’s, and God has already given us our inheritance.  Do we abide with God in confident expectation?  Do we take steps to explore and inhabit the land which God has promised?  How much longer will we put off the taking of these steps?

A Favorite from September 26, 2009.

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Luke 9:8-36: Transfiguration

Second Sunday of Lent, February 21, 2016grymes violins

So many times we are called to Transfiguration.  So many times we are called to Exodus.  So many times we meet angels and prophets and yet do not respond.  We are so caught up in getting through the day, getting through the night, the week, the month, the year . . . the life.

So often we want to pause at a happy spot to set up a tent to house that moment and hold it.  So often we want to wrestle with time until it obeys us.  We live in the past . . . live in the future . . . live anywhere else but the present . . . re-living, un-living, projecting, transferring.

Jesus goes up to the mountain with two of his beloved apostles to speak with Elijah, Moses and his Father about the work that lies before him.  Of course he knows what was expected of him – down to the smallest detail – yet he listens to those who have gone before him. He listens to the wisdom of the ages. And he shares the experience with his friends.

violins of hopeJesus shares this wisdom and love with us as well.  He give to us the opportunity of transfiguration of self.  We are not held away from the gift of salvation; rather, we are invited to join Christ’s joy and glory.  So when the cloud descends upon us, and we hear the voice from the mist say: This is my Son, listen to him . . . may we have the courage, the wisdom, the light and the joy to do as we are bidden.  Because through this experience comes a true knowing of God, a true knowing of self.  With this comes an openness to the Word and the Truth and the Light.

In this Lenten journey, it is good to pause to reflect upon the possibilities offered to us through Transfiguration.

Adapted from a Favorite from December 11, 2007.

Looking for transfiguration, we begin a new Lenten practice this week. Rather than thinking: “Let us make three tents to contain the joy of God’s wisdom,” let us think instead, “Let us share the joy of God’s great gift of love”.

grymes bookTo learn more about how the Violins of Hope provide an opportunity for learning and reflection through restored instruments that survived the Holocaust, and to see how Cleveland’s MALTZ MUSEUM OF JEWISH HERITAGE offers opportunities of transfiguration, click on the images above or visit: http://www.violinsofhopecle.org/

To hear these violins in concert, go to a CBS video at: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/violins-of-hope/  

Learn about the book Violins of Hope by James A. Grymes at: http://www.jamesagrymes.com/

Tomorrow, the Christ.


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